Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Climate accountability legislation a historic moment for Canada



A power pylon wrecked by severe weather. A Manitoba Hydro photo.

Pembina Institute reacts to the passage of Bill C-12, key to delivering on climate targets. Story here.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

When corporate interests trump the human right to clean drinking water - a case of concern in Manitoba, Canada.

by Don Sullivan - Canadian Dimension 

Don Sullivan (above) is the spokesperson for What The Frack Manitoba, the former director of the Boreal Forest Network and special adviser to the government of Manitoba on the Pimachiowin Aki UNESCO World Heritage site. He's a research affiliate with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and a Queen Golden Jubilee medal recipient.

Two corporations, both Alberta-based, are in the midst of seeking Government of Manitoba approval to build and operate silica sand mines and processing facilities that would extract and process some 2.6 million tonnes of silica sand per year. Story here.


"Is Manitoba's Brokenhead River about to become a dumping ground for an Alberta-based sand-mining company?"

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Superbug fears as British supermarket pig farms escalate use of antibiotics


Hog producers on the Canadian prairies (AB,SK & MB) were feeding more antibiotics to their herds in 2018 than 2017. (Source - CIPARS)

The use of certain antibiotics deemed critical to human health has surged on British pig farms supplying major supermarkets, prompting fresh concerns about the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Story here.



Sunday, June 20, 2021

Global Call Goes Out to End Destruction of Canada's Ancient Forests

Common Dreams

Old growth forest in BC. Photo by Nadine Reynolds.

More than 100 prominent individuals throughout Canadian society, along with a handful of international supporters, urged British Columbia Premier John Horgan on Friday to fulfill his campaign pledge to immediately protect the region's imperiled old-growth forests, which continue to be logged despite scientific warnings against further destruction. Story here.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Most rivers in the world run dry -- now and then

Science Daily

It's not uncommon for the Oak River, which flows through southwestern
Manitoba, CA., to stop flowing at this control dam. A PinP photo.

A new study found that between 51-60% of the 64 million kilometres of rivers and streams on Earth that they investigated stop flowing periodically, or run dry for part of the year. It is the first-ever empirically grounded effort to quantify the global distribution of non-perennial rivers and streams. The research, which was published today in Nature, calls for a paradigm shift in river science and management. Story here/

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

World May Already Have Hit Arctic 'Tipping Point'; Scientist.

Common Dreams

In summer, some polar bears do not make the transition from their winter residence on the Svalbard islands to the dense drift and pack ice of the high arctic, where they would find a plethora of prey. This is due to global climate change which causes the ice around the islands to melt much earlier than previously. The bears need to adapt from their proper food to a diet of detritus, small animals, bird eggs and carcasses of marine animals. Very often they suffer starvation and are doomed to die. The number of these starving animals is sadly increasing. A Wickimedia Commons photo.

'Urgent' action is needed, atmospheric scientist Markus Rex said. 

Story here.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Hog Barn Saturation.

The following letter by Jon Crowson appeared recently in the Empire Advance, a weekly newspaper in Virden, Manitoba. It's his response to an article which appeared earlier in the same paper (see bottom).

Hog Barn Saturation.

Thanks for the primer on the provinces hog industry (Empire Advance, June 4, 2021). Frankly I’m not sure I really needed one.

This map, from the industry itself, shows hog barn locations as they were
n 2007. How many are enough?

When the big guns from Manitoba Pork seek a meeting with council (even if they don’t have to leave their own boardroom to do it), one can’t help but be suspicious about their motives. Could it be that recent decisions, such as Cartwright-Roblin council to reject a new barn proposal, has got them worried? Worried that the tide is turning against the takeover of our rural areas by “Big Pork”.

When it comes to new factory hog barn proposals the concerns of nearby residents cover the gamut from the stink (sufficient to breech the International Treaty on Chemical Warfare), to ground and surface water pollution, to air pollution involving some serious greenhouse gases, to huge amounts of water consumed, to health concerns, to the noise from barn fans, to loss in property values. Then there are all the ethical and animal welfare issues around raising animals in confinement, never to see the light of day, with an almost certain death sentence in the event of a fire.

Artist's rendering by John Fefchak.
We should not be surprised that the Cartwright-Roblin council rejected the proposal by the wholly foreign owned HyLife Corporation for an 18,000 weanling hog operation. The willingness of certain other councils to approve such applications, and in so doing throw some of their own residents under the bus, is nothing short of shameful. There is a safeguard in our Planning Act, with guidance to councils, (Section 106(1) Re: “Decision”) which indicates that you might consider approving the application only if it: “(b)(ii) will not be detrimental to the health or general welfare of people living or working in the surrounding area, or negatively affect other properties or potential development in the surrounding area”. If that clause were taken seriously, it’s difficult to understand how any of these factory hog barns gets approved. I have had the dubious privilege of living with a factory hog barn as an upwind neighbour for a good many years now, and can assure you that it absolutely does not pass that test.

The Pallister government in its headlong rush to enable unfettered factory hog barn expansion has tossed out many of the protections to the environment that were formerly in place, in the guise of “red tape reductions” as well as lowering the construction standards for barns. This will doubtless come back to haunt us in years to come as the impacts of this pollution are compounded. Let’s face it the provinces Technical Review Committee, which is supposed to thoroughly vet applications for new barns, is now little more than a rubber stamp in favour of the barn proponent. As a result of Bill 19 we now also face the spectre of a barn developer appealing a council rejection to the Municipal Board, an un-elected body hand picked from the party faithful, to do the bidding of the current government and overrule the duly elected local council. There is a very bad smell associated with that prospect also.

Mr. Dahl talks about growth in the hog industry. I recall my old and wise “Economics 101” prof reminding us students never to confuse the terms “economic growth” with “economic development”.

Growth being an increase in wealth (usually in the hands of the few), and development being increased prosperity and quality of life for all residents. Councils would do well to ponder the difference.

Significant portions of our rural areas are becoming unlivable due to the proliferation of factory hog barns. How many more do we need, and what kind of mess are we creating for future generations?

Jon Crowson. Hamiota.


A primer on the province’s hog industry

Lindsay White / Virden Empire-Advance June 4, 2021 12:35 AM

Cam Dahl, General Manager of Manitoba Pork, and Manager of Planning and Sustainable Development Grant Melnychuk reached out virtually to R.M. of Wallace-Woodworth Councillors to share information regarding the current state of the province’s hog production and processing industries. Their organization represents the more than 600 commercial hog producers in Manitoba.

“Really, what we’re here to do is start a dialogue,” Dahl said. “We want to talk about some of the benefits of and concerns about the industry. This isn't related to any specific projects. We're not aware of any specific projects that might be in the works.”

Appearing as a delegation at the May 27 meeting, Dahl and Melnychuk provided Council with a variety of facts and figures supporting the hog industry’s strong contribution to the provincial economy. It involves about 14,000 direct and indirect jobs, and approximately $1.7 billion annually. With over 600 barns, Manitoba stands behind Quebec as the second largest producer in the country. Product is currently exported to over 24 countries.

Since the lifting of a provincial moratorium on hog industry expansion in 2017, over $100 million in private investment has been approved across the province. Both executives see opportunity for significant growth in the post-pandemic economy, which could have major spinoff benefits in rural Manitoba.

“There's opportunities, for growth, there's benefits to growth, but we appreciate that when new barn proposals are made that municipalities have questions and the general public will often raise concerns,” Melnychuk said. They include odour control, manure management and the impact of a barn operation on ground water and the values of neighbouring properties. Melnychuk told councillors that efforts are made to mitigate each of these issues and indicated that Manitoba Pork encourages proponents of new hog barns to have informed discussions with their respective municipal councils prior to the application process taking place.

Dahl told Council that the province has some of the strictest environmental standards for hog operations on the continent, and operators must be part of a universal code of practice in order to ship their animals to federally inspected processing plants.

“There are regulations in place and significant industry standards enforced through auditing. If you’re not participating in the program, you cannot deliver your pigs,” he said. He added that operators also need to be able to demonstrate their ability to sustainably take care of manure.

During the discussion, Coun. Barb Stambuski questioned whether planting of a three-row shelterbelt on each site was being enforced. “We have been hearing about it for 20 plus years,” she said. “We haven't seen a good shelterbelt in our area – yet.” She also pointed to lacklustre maintenance of what was already in place. “There have been huge holes, and nothing has been done.”

“That's one of the things we will take back to our members,” Dahl responded. “It's not just the development plan but the ongoing maintenance of that development plan as well.”

On the subject of water, Coun. Stambuski explained that as the municipal system is nearing capacity, any new barns are not likely to be allowed to hook up. Melnychuk stressed that the presence of

adequate water, either from a nearby ground or municipal treated source, is a critical part of the application and review process which proponents need to address.

“Where there is treated water and capacity, barns do access it,” he said. “In others, they will utilize ground water if there is a suitable source that can be found. If it (the municipal system) is nearing capacity and there is no potential for expansion, that would certainly be a limiting factor of new barns siting in your location. If there is potential for expansion, and a new hog facility could contribute in that manner, then that could be considered as well.”

Coun. Stambuski asked about compensation for those experiencing an estimated -5% reduction in their property value due to the proximity of a barn operation.

“That would be part of the siting process,” Dahl said. “We would hope that when they're doing their site selection, they're not going to choose an area where there's neighbours within that 2 km area. If they do, I'd be surprised if you approve it, quite frankly.”

“Separation distance is key, and it’s one of the first things I flag,” Melnychuk said. He said that it is imperative that proponents satisfy the requirements of the municipal zoning by-law in considering where to develop. “If they're not meeting the setbacks of your municipal zoning by-law, I would caution them from even pursuing it,” he said.

Dahl and Melnychuk plan to meet with other municipal councils to apprise them of the latest happenings in their industry.

“Our goal is to reach out across the province and have these conversations where there might be potential for development,” he concluded. 


Confronting blatant propaganda from Manitoba's industrial pork sector. 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Deforestation is driven by global markets


The conversion of forests into agriculture has been flagged as one of the major causes of deforestation. A PinP photo.

The world is at a crossroads, as humanity tries to mitigate climate change and halt biodiversity loss, while still securing a supply of food for everyone. Story here.


Illegal clearing by agribusiness driving rainforest destruction

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Climate warming to increase carbon loss in Canadian peatland by 103 per cent

                                                       PHYS ORG

A "zombie" (peat) fire in the Arctic. Photo by Western Arctic National Parklands.
Carbon loss in Canadian peatland is projected to increase by 103 percent under a high emission scenario, according to new research led by scientists from the University of Waterloo. Story here.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Lake habitats are disappearing as the climate changes



Berlin .V.

A PinP photo.

Global warming is increasing the temperatures of lakes worldwide – are species finding the temperatures they need to survive? Details here.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Takin’ it to the bank

The National Observer

Trouble’s brewing for RBC. Canada’s climate movement is converging on the bank as its common target for pressure campaigns. Details here.


How Ethical are Ethical Funds? "Conscientious" investments & the tar sands connection.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

After Big Oil's very bad week, the message for Alberta is clear.

Policy Options 

Oil pipe sits on a railway siding in SW Manitoba. A PinP photo.

If Alberta’s policy-makers don’t plan for a managed fossil fuel decline, financial and other institutions will make the decision for them.  Story here.

World’s soils ‘under great pressure’, says UN pollution report

The Guardian

A  seeder at work in Manitoba, CA. A PinP photo.
Soils provide 95% of all food but are damaged by industrial, farming, mining and urban pollution. 

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Serious declines in oxygen levels are recorded in the world's temperate lakes.

Clear Lake, Manitoba, CA. A PinP photo.

Widespread, long-term declines in temperate lake oxygen levels have been reported in Nature this week. This trend, calculated for nearly 400 lakes within an 80-year period, may be linked to warming temperatures and decreasing water clarity. The declines could threaten essential lake ecosystems.

The concentration of dissolved oxygen in aquatic systems can affect the balance of nutrients, biodiversity, the quality of drinking water and greenhouse gas emissions. While oxygen loss in oceans has been documented, the changes in dissolved oxygen concentrations in lakes are less well understood, in part owing to a lack of long-term and large-scale studies.

Kevin Rose and authors measured temperature and dissolved oxygen levels for almost 400 lakes (mostly in Europe and the United States) between 1941 and 2017. Declines in dissolved oxygen are up to nine times greater than those observed in the oceans. 

Increased water temperatures are associated with reduced oxygen concentration in surface waters. And lower oxygen levels in deeper waters are linked to the formation of distinct thermal layers at different depths, along with reduced water clarity.  

There were some exceptions to these trends; for example, a large subset of 87 lakes exhibited increases in both water temperature and dissolved oxygen concentration. However, this anomaly could be attributed to algal blooms, which may increase concentrations at the surface, but reduce oxygen solubility lower down.

Human activity and warming temperatures are expected to continue to drive future losses in lake dissolved oxygen. 

As the authors conclude, ongoing, rigorous efforts will be needed to counter these effects.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

The Fate of the Canadian Rockies May Rest on This Decision

The Tyee

                                Bighorn country, eastern slopes, AB. Photo by Aerin Jacob

Approving the Grassy Mountain Coal Project will surely spell nothing less than the industrialization of Alberta’s sensitive eastern slopes. Story here.

Massive B.C. coal mines are about to get a new owner. Why some are worried about Glencore’s record

THE NARWHAL Coal mine at Tumbler Ridge, B.C.  Jeffrey Wynne ,      If the sale goes through, the company will inherit a contamination proble...